A highly productive component of The Extraordinary Leader development approach is the Importance Ratings section of the feedback report. This is where each set of raters — including the participant being assessed — are asked to identify the four most important competencies (of the 16 Differentiating Competencies) for their role. What’s especially useful is comparing the four chosen by the participant to those chosen by his or her manager.
It’s unusual for both the leader and his or her manager to align exactly on all four of the most important competencies for that person’s leadership role. When that happens, further probing usually shows that both of them engage in regular career and performance coaching sessions.
Often there’s alignment on 2 or 3 of the four competency importance ratings. Further discussions with that Extraordinary Leader participant often shows he or she have occasional career and/or performance discussions.
Too often, there’s complete misalignment; none of the four competency importance ratings match at all. In almost every one of those situations, there’s been little to no career or performance discussions between the leader and his or her manager.
In his latest Forbes column, Personal Development Isn’t Personal: 3 Tips for Getting Your Manager Involved, Jack Zenger shows powerful data from a study on the impact of management support on development. Participants with very supportive managers reported over twice as much improvement as those with unsupportive managers (74% versus 33%).
The key thrust of Jack’s column is that responsibility for building management support rests with the participant. He or she needs to ask for and focus the needed support from his or her manager.
Jack is right on. Strong leaders who haven’t won the boss lottery and end up with an overworked boss or one with poor coaching skills have to take the initiative and coach their boss on how to coach them. I’ve written a fair bit about Upward Leadership, such as “Bad Boss: Learn How to Manage Your Manager” and other articles listed in the topic area of Serving, Influencing, and Leading Upward.
Gaining your manager’s support for your ongoing coaching and development is a prime example of the “taking initiative” advice I love to leave with my audiences. From American writer Elbert Hubbard: “People who want milk should not seat themselves on a stool in the middle of a field and wait for a cow to back up to them.”